~NightChild~ (night_child80) wrote,

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Drink-driving laws and punishment in Queensland

Some of the SO and my telly guilty pleasures are Border Security - Australia's Front Line (I love whenever their machine beeps like a microwave with 'COCAINE' blinking in bright red alert) and The Force: Behind the Line.

In an episode of The Force (sounds like something out of Star Wars, doesn't it?), the cops were called out to a private residence in the middle of the night, because a man had lost control of his car after he'd gone round a roundabout and driven it off the road, over a family's yard and into their house. The wall had collapsed around the bonnet of the car, and he had only narrowly missed the 2 sleeping children inside.

And how did this happen?

The driver was drunk, with 4 times the legal alcohol limit in his blood stream.

Yet the man showed no remorse for:
  1. having had 4 cops, 4 firemen and 2 ambulance personnel come out, thereby tying up resources from real crime and rescue situations
  2. causing a family the trauma of lossing their home till assessments could be made to confirm if the house was still structurally sound and the roof wouldn't collapse on them
  3. any out-of-pocket expenses they'd incur to repair the damage (and/or the insurance premium hikes after a claim)
  4. having put the lives of 2 children in danger

And I'm not saying that he showed no remorse cuz he was comatose or babbling like a baby. He was talking into the camera with a 'meh' attitude, as if he had only knocked a soup can off a shelf in a supermarket.

But the worst part was he got off with a ridiculously light sentence of a $400-600 fine and lost his licence for 6 months. That in itself is a bit of cop out, cuz $400-600 probably wouldn't cover the cost of the repairs or having the cops/paramedics/firemen for however many hours they were out there.

The following sections under Part 3 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (TORUM) relate to the different blood alcohol levels applicable to the different categories of drivers.

Section 79A defines the three alcohol limits.
  • Section 79 (2A) creates an offence for a person under the age 25 who does not hold an open licence, if they exceed zero.
  • Section 79 (2) creates an offence for a person if they exceed the general limit, i.e. equal or exceed .050.
  • Section 79 (2B) & (2C) creates an offence when driving etc certain classes of vehicles with a blood/breath alcohol concentration greater than zero (trucks, buses, B-doubles).

At November 1 2009, Queensland's road toll stood at 292, compared to 276 at the same time in 2008 (and as of Nov 24 2009, that number is now more than 300). 73 of those road deaths were attributable to alcohol.

So it's no wonder that some are calling to drop the drink driving limit to zero. The Queensland government couldn't be bringing in these revised laws soon enough. I don't see why some might be up in arms about it. Their arguements are that when intoxicated, these people have reduced awareness of their actions and therefore should not be blamed for their stupidity. But in my mind, these people were sober and made the decision to drink too much, so therefore should be made responsible for their actions in its entirety.

And the cops are guilty of it too. These are the guys who should've known better and have seen what drink driving does to people, yet their unions cry out that dismissing them is too harsh a punishment.

Dude, if a cop got caught in Singapore for accepting a bribe, they can be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years or to both. And their dismissal from the force would be mandatory. Now that is harsh.

For those in Singapore, did you know we do have an alcohol limit? If the driver is found with more than the legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millitres of breath, or more than 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millitres of blood, he/she is deemed to have broken the law and it does not matter whether the driver has perfect control of the vehicle, when caught. Even when the alcohol level is under the legal limit, the driver can still be convicted if it is shown that he/she did not have proper control of the vehicle as a result of alcoholic intoxication.

Singapore's penalties:
  1. First Time – Offenders will be fined between $1000/- and $5000/- or six months imprisonment.
  2. Second Time – Offenders will be fined between $3000/- and $10,000/- fine and imprisonment for a term of up to one year.
  3. Repeated Offences – Offenders will face enhanced punishment up to 3 times the penalty, a maximum of $30,000/- fine and three years' imprisonment.
  4. Offenders causing death or serious injuries can also be caned up to 6 strokes.
  5. All those convicted will be disqualified from driving for at least 1 year, even if they have not caused any traffic accidents.

So Australia doesn't practice caning (something to consider if it wasn't prohibited under international human rights law and Australia is a participating member of Amnesty), but disqualifying convicted drink drivers for at least 1 year might make for a worthy deterrent in a country where a lack of a licence is a real disability and drinking is a big social issue.

Something to think about the next time you drink and wanna pick up your keys to drive home.
Tags: australia, reflections

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